Paul McGinley's memories from Ryder Cup win at Gleneagles 'tinged with great sadness'

There was no sparkle in Paul McGinley’s eyes as he chatted at the back of the practice area at Gleneagles, where players were putting the finishing touches to their games for the Senior Open, which starts at the Perthshire venue on Thursday.

By his own admission, the Irishman is feeling a tad jaded after working all hours at last week’s 150th Open at St Andrews in his two separate but similar jobs with Sky Sports Golf and NBC in the US.

Due to a distinct lack of competitive action recently, the 55-year-old is also a tad concerned about being able to do himself justice with a club back in his hands in the season’s final major, which is being played on the King’s Course.

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More than anything, though, a distinct feeling of McGinley being melancholy was the fact that being back at Gleneagles, where he led Europe to a thumping win in the 2014, had left him with mixed feelings.

Paul McGinley celebrates with his players after Europe's win in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

“I have great memories here, but tinged with great sadness about what is going on in the game at the moment,” he said of golf being ripped apart by a civil war that has escalated after Henrik Stenson was stripped of the Ryder Cup captaincy over his expected LiV Golf link up.

Stenson played on McGinley’s successful side here eight years ago, as did five other players who have already tee up in the opening two $25 million events on Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed rebel circuit - Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell.

It remains to be see whether they’ll ever be involved in a Ryder Cup again, with McGinley finding that difficult to comprehend as he’s found himself taking a trip down memory lane this week.

“A special place,” he said of Gleneagles. “Of course, every time you come through the gates and up to the hotel, walk through the corridors, the memories come flooding back. That was there, that’s where this was, that’s where the team room was. The creche, which was our team room!

Paul McGinley encourages Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson as they leave the first tee during the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.

“Great memories and, with all the stuff going on in the world of golf at the moment, there’s a bit of sad reflection at the same time. Great moments and great bondings made. And whatever happens it’s important we don’t lose those bondings.

“My dad is in his 80s now and I take him to all the Donegal games. And one of the most endearing things is walking into the grounds and all the people who say ‘hello Mick’ and how are you, all of those guys he played football with. We’re in danger of losing that, but it’s important we don’t let that happen.”

McGinley’s meticulous planning laid the foundations for his side’s 16.5-11.5 win over a US team led by five-team Open champion Tom Watson, but equally important was the way the home players bonded that week.

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“We had an unbelievable team spirit, everyone recognised that and could see that,” added McGinley. “We had a lot of fun, as we always do, and I’d like to think we brought out the best of all previous Ryder Cups I’ve been involved in and highlighted the players. Made them the focal part of part of what I was doing as captain.”

As Europe find themselves looking for a new captain after Stenson’s tenure was ended with immediate effect after he’d only been in the post for the 2023 match in Rome since March, McGinley spoke openly about the impact LIV Golf is having on the game.

“It’s high-end business and high end sport, we’re talking about billions of dollars here, when money gets involved to the level it has done, people make decisions based on money and I’m not going to ridicule them on that,” he said.

“Henrik Stenson at 48 years of age, I know it’s a Ryder Cup captaincy, Ian Poulter and all he’s done for the European Tour, but when someone comes along and offers such a ridiculously huge amount of money this late in their career, it’s like it happens in every sport, not just golf.

“How many soccer players in their early 30s go to China, or go to Dubai, or go to Qatar and take a huge windfall of money? David Beckham did it when he went over to the MLS. Golf is no different and golf is going that way.

“Golf has pretty much been a monopoly between the tours and now there’s a bit of competition, competition’s created leverage for astronomical amounts of money. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense but guys late in their career and getting this windfall and they’re making decisions based on that. But they have to understand there’s consequences for that, and the Ryder Cup captaincy is one of them.”

What would he have done in the same situation? “I don’t know,” he said. I’m part of the establishment. I’ve done well in the game but that’s just me. I don’t think it’s my position to judge these guys. In a lot of ways I get it, but my view is the same as a lot of people - fine lads, good luck, but don’t try to come back and play both sides!”

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“I’m hoping it’s not going to be terminal. I’m hoping there is going to be some kind of an arrangement made at some stage. Probably that will be long-term rather than short. It’s important to me to maintain a relationship with all the players I have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with in Ryder Cups. Especially here. And the guys I captained."

Lots of fans from that Ryder Cup will be back at Gleneagles over the next four days and, as much as though they appreciated McGinley’s role in a special week on Scottish soil, the feeling is mutual.

“I’ll show my appreciation to the fans this week for what they did back in 2014,” declared McGinley. “We’re in the home of golf. And the fans were brilliant. It was such a happy occasion. A very happy occasion, certainly from a European perspective.”

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Henrik Stenson stripped of Ryder Cup captaincy over LIV Golf link



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